'Simpsons' pic features Bart in the buff

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LONDON -- The upcoming Simpsons movie takes a typically irreverent dig at religion and environmentalists, and features a nude scene involving Bart that had the audience at a preview show applauding.

A 10-minute clip from "The Simpsons Movie," the first time Homer, Marge, their family and friends have made it to the big screen, was shown in London late on Wednesday ahead of its release worldwide later in July.

The clip offered several clues as to the plot, suggesting that the environment and religion would be major themes.

Rock band Green Day is booed and pelted when it starts speaking about the environment to a Springfield crowd, while Homer's daughter Lisa is a green campaigner shunned by the town's inhabitants who simply don't care.

She may also find love, however, after she swoons upon meeting a fellow campaigner from Ireland who insists he is not the son of U2 frontman and celebrity campaigner Bono.

The Simpsons also turn up late at church, where Homer's father has a seizure and warns of trouble to come.

When asked to explain this behavior, Homer flicks through a Bible, and mutters: "This book doesn't have any answers."

Perhaps the biggest laugh was for Bart, who skateboards through town naked after being challenged to do so by Homer.

After a series of scenes where strategically-placed extras and props protect his modesty, the audience gets a full view of his private parts through a gap in a hedge.

Series creator Matt Groening, speaking to the audience after the clips were screened, said he expected complaints.

"In America there's someone willing to pretend to be offended by everything and so we annoy people and that's part of the appeal," he said. "It's to entertain people and also to annoy a certain segment of the audience as well."

Series writer Al Jean agreed that there were big themes in the film, particularly the environment, but that the movie's makers did not obviously take sides.

"They are big themes, especially the environmental theme, but we always like to approach it from both sides, so later in the film when Lisa's giving a lecture about the pollution, the label of the lecture is 'An Irritating Truth'."

Former Vice President Al Gore inspired Oscar-winning climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth".

Groening said he had been thinking about making a movie based on the hit animated television series as early as 1992, but struggled to find the time.

Asked what the main message of the movie was, Jean replied: "It's that a man should listen to his wife."

Groening added: "And it's a romantic movie. Homer falls in love with a pig."

"The Simpsons Movie" enters a crowded animation movie marketplace, but Groening argued that it stood out from the majority of films in the genre.

"This really is a tribute to the art of hand-drawn animation which is basically disappearing," he said. "All the animated movies these days are computer-generated, and this is the old-fashioned, clumsy, hand-drawn ... way."
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